Have you ever wondered about the five foolish virgins in the parable found in Matthew 25? (verses 1-13) According to the story, ten virgins in a wedding party were waiting for the groom to come for his bride and go with them to his father’s house for the wedding feast. While they were waiting, five of them ran out of oil for their lamps (verse 8). So, they were forced to go and find some to buy. While they were gone, here comes the groom and he takes the waiting wedding party, including his bride, with him. When the five virgins came back after purchasing oil, they were not allowed into the feast. They were too late.
Many have said that Jesus told the parable using the oil to represent the Holy Spirit given to those who choose Him. The five foolish virgins didn’t have that Spirit, so they weren’t recognized as part of the wedding party and not allowed in.
I’ve always struggled with that interpretation. They had oil to begin with, but ran out while they were waiting. If the oil represented the Holy Spirit, did He leak out? Or maybe they somehow grieved Him (in not preparing), but when one grieves the Holy Spirit, isn’t that blasphemy and unforgivable? Had they blasphemed God by not being prepared? If so, wouldn’t Jesus have told us so? He previously had accused the Pharisees of blaspheming when they accused Him of healing with power from satan. The foolish virgins never seem to reject the bridegroom or the oil; their sin was in running out. Again, do we leak? Is that unforgivable?
I wonder. Perhaps there is another way to look at this parable. Suppose this is really about a paradigm shift. Suppose the oil represents the values we choose in life. All the virgins chose to wait for the bridegroom, so if the oil represents values, they chose the values of the bridegroom: to be ready for the wedding feast. But if, by going out to buy oil, the foolish virgins were choosing no longer to wait, but instead to go out into the world for what they needed, choosing the world’s values over the bridegroom’s, then Jesus as the bridegroom, wouldn’t recognize them as part of His wedding party. I wonder.
If you compare the values of the late 1700’s and 1800s with today’s values, the difference is enormous. How much we’ve changed! In some ways, how far we have fallen! There are too many changed values to even list; I’m sure you can think of a few. Yes, we’ve had great progress, yet I wonder, have we had a paradigm shift? Have we, as a society, chosen the world over Jesus? Do you wonder, too?
Still there is hope. Our hope is the bridegroom – Jesus. We cannot enter the wedding feast with our false worldly values (the oil that was bought) and not heavenly ones, but we can enter if we value what God values: faith in what He’s done for us and love – for Him – for all others regardless of who they are or what they’ve done. That’s how God loves us and that’s what He wants from us.
I may be wrong. But perhaps embracing faith, hope and love is the paradigm shift we need.
Hope to see you at the wedding feast!
“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13